Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day - 2011

By Diane Forrest,

Today is July 4th, a day that is recognized as a federal holiday celebrating the separation from Great Britain's rule. In 1776 the Declaration of Independence was penned by Thomas Jefferson and signed by Congress on July 4th approving this separation.  In a letter written by John Adams to his wife, Abigail, he stated that "The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more." 

Americans celebrate July 4th with parades, fireworks, barbeques, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, political speeches and ceremonies, and various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States.  I hope we have done John Adams proud!

The 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays.  We had a cabin on the lake and would spend a week there prior to the 4th.  We would swim, fish, ski, for days building up to the main event.  When the big day finally arrived you could just feel the excitement in the air.  Decorations went up, and tables were spread with food that would rival Thanksgiving!  There were hams, turkeys, hamburgers, hot dogs, fish, every kind of vegetable, cakes, pies...enough for a small country, or the group of the starving kids who had been playing in the lake all day.  The night would end with the explosion of fireworks across the water and was a beautiful magical sight.

As I got older, I joined the church choir.  One of the best concerts we performed was the 4th of July concert after the Gulf War.  The church was decorated with red, white and blue, and the choir sang every patriotic song imaginable.  The symphony orchestra accompanied the choir to make the music even more special.  One medley that we sang included the hymns of each branch of the military.  During this song, the congregation members who served in each branch were asked to stand while their hymn was being sung.  That was such a special event, and still brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes.

Today, let your patriotic pride flow, raise a flag, spend time with friends and family, go to a parade or watch some fireworks.  If you are not in an area that has fireworks or parades, check out the television.  I recommend the Boston Pops Orchestra and fireworks over the nation’s capital!  Don't forget to say a prayer for thanks and safety for our service men and women who are still constantly fighting for our freedoms. 

Happy 4th of July!

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